The Predators salvage a disappointing start to their Florida mini-trip with a dominating 5-0 win over the Florida Panthers. Carter Hutton stopped 22 shots in getting his 2nd shutout of the season. He continues to play incredible hockey in relief of Pekka Rinne.
The Preds played with surprising speed and physicality, considering how last night's game ended. The forward lines came out firing tough shots at Roberto Luongo and fighting constantly on the boards. For much of the game, the Panthers defense looked tired and lost (they played last night as well, against the Blues) and the Preds weren't letting up. The defense did a great job of closing gaps, allowing only a handful of chances. And the chances that came for the Panthers were handled well by Hutton. He had some real highlight reel saves, including one against one of the greatest hockey players of all time.
Nashville had goals from Calle Jarnkrok (x2), Miikka Salomaki, James Neal, and Shea Weber. All four forward lines were skating, passing, and shooting well, creating quality chances in every period. Special teams did a nice job: the power-play had two goals, the penalty kill went 4 for 4, and Jarnkrok had a shorty. Huge improvement from earlier in the season, when special teams were a major blemish.
At this point in the season, points are at a premium. Given their position in the standings, the Preds needed this.
- Jarnkrok gets this party started! Fantastic play. The real key was James Neal clogging up the middle (and Johansen lurking on the left side) allowing Jarnkrok to overlap with plenty of room and speed. Basically unimpeded on ole Bobby Lou. Iron Hook roofs it and the Preds have an early lead.
- And now Salomaki beats Luongo as well! YES, KID! Awesome work from the 4th line... Austin Watson follows up some dirty work with a beautiful pass to Miikka, who buries one on Luongo's glove side. Wow. Huge start here for the Preds.
- Hutton just stopped Jaromir Jagr point blank. Play stopped momentarily so Hutton can process the gravity of what just happened.
- Viktor Arvidsson just shoved Jagr angrily following a scrum in front of Hutton. Jagr looked frustrated about an early whistle maybe, while Arvidsson looked angry about a late whack on Hutton. Interesting fact: Jaromir Jagr scored his 92nd career goal on April 4th, 1993. Four days later, Arvidsson was born.
- Craig Smith may be scoring less, but he's working like a dog on those boards. Guy has a motor that doesn't quit, to go with his speed and agility. Only a matter of time for the goals to come, really.
- Anthony Bitetto just crushed Quinton Howden. A booming (and legal) hip-check that left Howden on the ice, who then heads to the locker-room for attention. Man, what a hit.
- James Neal with another! Though he probably just stole a goal from RyJo, who deflected a Mike Ribeiro fake-shot pass that looked like it was going in. But Neal pounced and got his 21st of the year. I don't care who gets 'em, I just care that they go in. 3-0 good guys.
- Hutton's best save of the night (so far) comes against Jonathan Huberdeau on a 2-on-1. Hutt had to come all the way across the goal to get the pad save, protecting the 3 goal lead. Huge save, huge moment.
- The officials decide to play the final 32 seconds of the 2nd period after the 2nd intermission, due to a fan injury. Good call.
- Panthers essentially coasting the rest of the way in this one, which is fine with the Preds. Both teams looking a bit tired in the 3rd, but the scoreboard favors Nashville.
- Captain Weber. Coffin nailed. BOOM. Huge result here.
OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Carter Hutton: clutch, clutch performance from Hutt tonight. Nice stretch of hockey he has been playing. How long can he keep it going?
- James Neal: a goal and an assist, doing his job yet again. 21 goals now.
- Calle Jarnkrok: 2 goals tonight, giving him 11 on the year. One goal as a top-line winger, one goal as a penalty killer. Such a versatile player. The most important RFA not named "Forsberg"
Tweets of the Night
Preds playing stronger than what I'm drinking— Not Pekka Rinne (@Not_Rinne) February 14, 2016
This third period will be 20:32, making it the longest period of the season— Smashville Scores (@Smashville_Wins) February 14, 2016
Roll the video highlights...